Speaking to the masses in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis articulated a more accepting tone toward marital separation.
“There are cases in which separation is inevitable,” Francis said. “Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary.”
Francis emphasized that marriages involving abuse, exploitation and neglect were clear reasons to separate.
Still, he tempered his comments by saying the separation of couples created “so called irregular families, even if I don’t like this word,” but also said it could help children “avoid becoming hostages of daddy or mommy.”
Last year, Francis echoed similar reformist comments on gay marriage, saying he would tolerate some same-sex civil unions, though not marriage.
In both areas, he emphasized individual circumstances rather than advocating for systemic alterations in the Catholic Church.
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question. ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
As of now, the church states that divorced members must obtain an annulment, a formal declaration that a marriage was never valid since the Church does not recognize “civil” divorces. This process can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months. The Pope’s comments come ahead of the upcoming bishop’s conference in Rome where they will discuss issues affecting the church, such as the annulment process for ending marriages.
However, the Vatican released a working paper earlier this week which suggested that no such changes are planned on being implemented.